I have loved using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading to teach Petra. This book is the perfect backbone for teaching the average child to read. And even better–its not expensive. I truly believe it should be given to anyone you know with a young child.
I started Petra in the book in May when she hit 3.5 years old. She has been working through the lessons for about 3 months now. We skipped section 1 on letter sounds because she already knew every letter sound forward and backwards and honestly it seems rather silly to make her memorize a poem when she already knew the sounds. That poem looked very tedious even to me. I’d recommend you just buy Leap Frog’s Letter Factory DVD for learning sounds and practice with your kids all the time. Practice at home, practice in the car, practice anytime you see a letter. Section 1 is good for memory work — but I’d rather use the Bible or famous poems for memory work.
So we started in section 2 with reading lessons. Some children at this age have a hard time understanding how to sound out words and blend them together and I had already been working with her for weeks at this point on just “at” words. But it had finally clicked and we moved into the book with gusto. (On a side note, Jasper is having no problem blending words at 2.5 years because he has been exposed to it so much with her doing it).
The authors, Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington, (Jesse Wise is quite famous for her classical homeschooling books), present the words and move through lessons in a methodical way. It makes sense not only to me, but also to Petra. It builds very nicely so that on nearly every page she is able to read the words before I even explain the rule.
Here is how we have proceeded:
- We started with about 5-10 minutes a day, and now we usually work 15-30 minutes a day. And sometimes we go back and review sections later in the day.
- Instead of reading the script, I paraphrase. And instead of her reading from the book, I often write the words on a white board. She loves to read them off the board. Sometimes I have her help me write some of the letters, or add the last letter to the word and then read it. Sometime I have her copy the words from the book to the whiteboard, and then read. Then I also take the whiteboard in the car while we are traveling as a family. I scribble down a word and hold it up for her to read. And then sometimes we just read straight from the book.
- We are moving through a lesson every 1-2 days and Petra loves it! She is disappointed on days that we don’t have time to do a reading lesson. It is a very special time for us, and probably will be some of my fondest memories through the years. She is becoming phonetically trained and is sounding out words she has never seen before.
- I also have bribed her with a piece of sugarless gum (or sometimes 3-5 tic tacs) after each full lesson that she does well on. She has to sit still, pay attention and concentrate. If we are just reviewing, she doesn’t get any gum or tic-tacs. It is saved only for new lessons.
One last plus to the book is that it is greatly expanding Petra’s vocabulary. Most lessons have words that she doesn’t know. We make sentences out of the words. We look them up in a dictionary to find their meaning. And we talk about them.
I highly recommend this book to every parent of preschoolers or young children learning to read.
We moved on to section 7 today which begins with Lesson 65 on Long Vowel, Silent-E Words. Here is a video of Petra reading the sentences from today’s lessons. This was her third time reading these sentences. She read them through with some minor help the first time, then immediately I had her identify the long-vowel words and circle them and read it again. She flew through it the second time. We came back to it after a couple hours for the third time and for me to take this video.
I have only one complaint with the book and that is the font of the text. Due to the chosen font, a capital “I” looks like an lowercase “l.” Which can be confusing to a beginner reader. However, I’m sure this is pretty common in books so it may have been done on purpose. It doesn’t change my opinion of the book. Bottom line: buy it. It’s the best $30 you’ll spend on your child. Literacy is a wonderful gift.